Sunday Doings

Well, I studied more today -- Site Zoning and Grading this time. Did OK. I need to work on my parking lot layout process though.

I went to a surprise baby shower (wowed the dads with my bike) and went to see The Kingdom. It's very well done, and shows the situation to be almost as complicated as it really is. There's a lot of violence, but the acting is very well done, as is the writing. I hope this is nominated for an Oscar.


Don't Want To Be Redundant

I am trying very hard not to say how much I dislike studying, particularly as I know that I am doing the "easy" studying (just learning the rules of the game) for these three exams. If I don't like sitting down to the computer and working on a graphic puzzle for an hour and a half, how much am I going to protest sitting down with flash cards or a book?
So, I'm going to be positive about it and say "I just practiced the Site Design test and despite having to throw out my first scheme and retry, I still finished in time and got a probably passing result." After checking out other solutions on the ARE Forum, I know what I should be doing to increase my chances of passing. It's on to the next piece, Site Zoning. Whoopi-do.

In my procrastinating, I managed to do a decent amount of chores: went to buy cat supplies at PetSmart and air filters at Home Depot, bought cards and gift cards for the two baby showers I'm going to, return a library book, do laundry, and get up to date on my finances. Tomorrow, I'm going to try and get my studying done early in the day. We'll see how that goes.

Wierd Dreams Are Made of These

Whew! I just got up after sleeping for 12 hours straight. I really needed it. I had a very stressful afternoon at work yesterday (successfully solving some issues in a very short period of time), so I went home (stopped at the bank to make a car payment, whew!) and had a glass of vanilla vodka and Coke (Pepsi, really, but the name doesn't feel right, paired up with other words) while sitting in a hot bath reading the latest Crate & Barrel catalog. When I was done with that, I watched the CSI season premiere (which was mediocre, in my opinion) and then went straight to bed.
I had some wierd dreams, all science-fictiony. Max came to visit me and he had these cool glasses that had screens on the lenses that showed different eyes (since they weren't clear glass). He could push a button to change the style and the coolest version was where the lenses merged into one center lens with one eye, so he looked like a cyclops. It was funny and wierd.
I also dreamed I was in the middle of some sort of sci-fi/fantasy adventure, where all the people in it were playing parts -- kind of a live action Dungeons & Dragons or a Star Trek holodeck. My mum (although she didn't look like my mum) was the leader and I was her second-in-command. Various things happened, like a couple of characters being attacked by a python, but the most interesting thing was this: We were sitting at a table, eating, and my mum pointed out some pests on the floor that were infesting the lower levels of the building. I looked down and there were these things that look like jellos from a 2" round jello mold. "Those are pests?" "Yes," she said, "They move around on the organ that is thier mouth." Sure enough, when I looked down again, one was oozing toward a piece of food and then surrounding it to digest it. It left behind a pile of what looked like tiny yellow rice. "Ewww. What's that? Poop?" I asked. "That's thier eggs." Eww. Just thinking about having an infestation of those things turns my stomach. And then I woke up. Wierd, huh?


Feel the Burn!

Ok, that's a correlation between exercising (I just got back from the gym) and me spending a couple hours last night writing the report for work that I needed to do. In theory, I'd do it at work, but it's next to impossible to concentrate there, and what took me two hours to do last night would have taken me all day. I don't have all day. So, I left work a little early (the fabulous suggestion of my lunching companion, FS) and went and had some drinks with my friends, Wendy and Ginger, before going home and writing the report. It had been a long site visit, so I had over 90 photos, not all of which needed to go into the report, but I did cover a lot of ground.
Anyway, it's done and I can go into work this morning, quickly do the photo portion of the report and send it off to the owner's rep. Yay!


New Fall TV Reviews

Multi-tasking -- watching TV and working on work at the same time -- didn't really work this evening, but I'm going to blame it on the fact that I didn't have my notebook with me. No, really, I forgot the notebook. I brought the Word document and the photos, but not the notebook. Fine, don't believe me, see if I care.

Here are my evaluations of some of the new shows:
Journeyman -- on Monday, before Heroes; good acting, particularly from the main guy, Kevin McKidd, who we know from Rome (mental note: put that show on my Amazon wishlist). The premise is similar to Quantum Leap, where a guy time travels into the past to help people. QL always bothered me, 'cause I hated the idea of someone being trapped like that, unable to live his own life, only borrow pieces of other peoples' lives. This one is a bit better than that, but it's still a little painful. Although I have great respect for the main actor, and one of the actresses looks like someone FS would cross a continent for, I don't think I'll be watching this one regularly. I wish them all the best though.
Bionic Woman -- on Wednesday; good special effects, but the writing is clunky. I really like Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica, but she's only as good as the writing she's given. On BSG, she's a heroine with a lot of depth. On BW, she's a cardboard villain. Yawn. The heroine of BW, Michelle Ryan is OK, but her light colored eyes wierd me out. I've always been wierded out by extremely light colored eyes. I don't know why, but there it is. This is not a TV show I will be watching at all.
Life -- on Wednesday; good acting by the main hero, played by Damian Lewis, who we all swore we would follow into Hell when he played Winters on Band of Brothers. He's a cop who was framed and spent a long time in prison, before he was exonerated and rejoined the police force. Lots of thought has gone into the repercussions of this premise: what the hero experienced in prison as a cop, what mental attitudes he adopted to survive, and what would happen to him when he was freed -- namely a sizable lawsuit settlement for wrongful imprisonment. It's a quirky show, and with any other actor, I'd doubt it's success. But Damian Lewis is very very good at doing sensitive and masculine at the same time. If anyone can pull it off, he can. I *will* be watching this show, to see if he does.



"Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself--and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to--letting a person be what he really is." - Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors

I'm sitting here with the cats, one on my lap and one next to me. They definitely provide nearly unconditional support. They enjoy being with me, even when I'm stressed and cranky. Pets provide one special kind of companionship.

Sometimes though, you need another person. Married people have each other. Single people find friends they can call up on a moment's notice. You find friends among coworkers, friends who do organized activities together, friends on the internet, friends through friends, and family who are friends. You can have common interests, but I think more importantly, friends like you as you are. They want the best for you, but they don't try and change you. They want to just be with you, for no reason, but to be with you.

What, then, is companionship? Here's the definition of companion. Frequent contact. The toughest kind of friendship, for me. I didn't always consider myself to be very good at friendship. I let my worry about being boring change how I interacted with people. In high school, I know I kept some people at arms length -- mainly because I couldn't believe someone would want to spend time with me. It's taken about 15 years for me to start having friendships where I don't worry (as much) about that. It still surprises me. Heck, it surprises me that I have as many blog readers as I do.

So thank you, friend. When I go shopping with you, sit with you for a drink or a cup of tea, sit around the campfire with you, or chat with you here on my blog, I am happy to not only have you as a friend, but be a friend to you.


Chuck You, Farley

I watched the pilot episode of Chuck this evening. From the ads, it seemed like it was going to be a retread of the concept from Scarecrow & Mrs. King: professional spy and housewife team up, only with the genders reversed. However, it is not. Sure, the hot love interest is a kick-ass CIA agent (she really is cute, even if she is blonde, and played by a decent actress) and sure, the hero is a geeky everydude who works in the TV equivalent of Geek Squad at Best Buy (he is also played by a charismatic actor, thank goodness). However, the difference is that he has some kind of information that was downloaded into his head that makes him valuable to the government. I like the secondary characters as well, particularly the slightly amoral NSA agent, played by Adam Baldwin (aka Jayne, from Firefly). The geeky best friend is a wee bit annoying, but it's the first episode -- I'll give him time to mellow. I also like the concerned sister and her boyfriend, Captain Amazing. The show also makes a funny commentary on big stores. The hero works at "Buy More" and next door is "Large Mart," a riff on Costco. The sets are funny, because they take the real thing and make it slightly ridiculous. Heh. Social commentary. :)
All in all, I think I'd recommend it. I'll probably watch a few more and see if the writing is as good as the premise.

Big Brother

Last Monday, I put tracking code into my website, to see how many visitors I get. I was expecting maybe 6 weekly. It really seemed like a waste of time, but [shrug] I did it anyway.
Boy, was I surprised with the results. Turns out that I have a handful of people who visit every day. Then there's another handful that visit regularly, though not every day. And then there's a third handful that have visited once -- might be transients, might be people on a lot longer visit cycle than I have measured yet. That's a heck of a lot more traffic than I was thinking I had.
The side effect that this knowledge has had on me is that I feel more connected to you, the reader. No, I don't necessarily know who you are (see next paragraph), but I know that some of you do me the honor of checking in regularly. The least I can do is provide fresh content for such an honor. So, you'll probably see more from me in the future. I don't know if I'll always have something interesting to say, but I'll be thinking of you -- whoever you are.
Now, for those concerned about their privacy: if you "lurk" -- which means, if you don't post a comment -- then I have very little way of knowing who you are. The information gathered does not identify users or even specific computers. All I get is a time and a place (the location of the server). Even that gets confusing when someone's server is not local. For example, I know my parents have read this blog in the past week because my mum commented, but none of the servers that have visited my blog were located in Oklahoma. The other interesting thing is that some people have "cookies" turned off on their computers, so some repeating visitors do not show up as return guests and the computer does not track how long that person stayed.
The long and short of it is, lurk all you like. I won't know who you are unless you say "hi, it's me!"
Above, you'll see the data collected from the past week. I had a lull during Saturday, so my average visitors is 8 per day, but without that lull, it's more like 10. The long green bars are page downloads. If it's to be believed, people average looking at two pages. I take that with a grain of salt though, because it seems to register people looking at the main page more than once per visit. That seems weird, so I think it must be a peculiarity of the software.

Thanks so much for reading my blog! I write this blog to keep in contact with you, my friends and family, and to know that I am succeeding makes me a little verklempt. :)

Like Chinese Water Torture, It Continues

I just realized I have not posted a picture of my project any time recently. This may be because when I am not at work, I would like to pretend the project doesn't exist. It's in the process of giving me a nervous breakdown right now. The building inspector has begun to make wierd demands about extent of fire rating, etc. ARRGH!
What doesn't kill me, makes me stronger, right?


Procrastinating from Studying

Well, I just finished watching the season finale of one of my new favorite shows, Burn Notice (very well written show) and I've found an article link to post for your enjoyment today. I guess it's time to stop procrastinating and start studying.

The article from The Financial Times is about the latest trend for locally grown foods and how complex the ecological/sustainable equation really is. Our family had a recent discussion on this subject.

Later: Well, did some studying and then I mowed the lawn. Back to studying. [sigh]

Even Later: I was procrastinating on the internet when Max called and said he and Jenn were coming down to my neck of the woods and would I like to join them. I hmmm and hawwed until we got the timing down. I would have a few hours to study and then I could hang out with them. I got to studying, pronto! I did the Mechanical and Electrical Plan Vignette in an hour and ten minutes (roughly supposed to take me an hour). Part of the delay was me figuring out how to attack the patterning part of the problem. My solution was borderline -- right in many respects, but wrong in some. The main goal was to find out what they think is a right answer (not what I think). I'm going to do a little further research on the ARE Forum and then I should be good to move on to the next one.



In honor of the Women's Circle I went to this evening, I thought I'd link to Maya Angelou's Phenomenal Woman
Here's an excerpt:
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

It's a wonderful concept, but oh, so hard to really believe about yourself all the time.



A Discovery

I found a beautiful spiderweb across the deck steps today. Fortunately, I've been going in and out of the back door because of the patio, so I didn't accidentally destroy it.

Here is the odd looking spider that was hunkered down in the middle of it. It was really hard to get the camera to focus on it.

I'm not sure whether I should disturb the web or not. I don't need to go through there right now, so I think I'll leave it for a while. I'm sure that it'll be tough enough to keep that web up with wind and rain. If it turns out that it needs to be taken down, I'll do it (with regret, like moving the worms), but until then, I'll leave it up.


Doggy Style

If I were a Muppet, I would be Rowlf.

Yes! Rowlf was one of my favorites! I didn't even know he was one of the options, so I know I didn't skew my answers to get something in particular. hee hee!

You Are Rowlf the Dog

Mellow and serious, you enjoy time alone cultivating your talents.

You're a cool dog, and you always present a relaxed vibe.

A talented pianist, you can play almost anything - especially songs by Beethoven.

"My bark is worse than my bite, and my piano playing beats 'em both."

Cute and Yummy

The cats decided that they *both* wanted to sit on my lap at the same time. They are not small cats. As you can see in the photo, I had my arm alongside my leg to widen the lap a little. Matti's butt is entirely on my arm. I can do that for a while, but not forever. (They are so darned cute.)

This is a picture of my yummy dinner on Saturday. It's elbow macaroni, Hillshire Farm turkey kielbasa (I tried a different brand the other day and it just wasn't right for me. Tasted different!), and sliced mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil and rosemary and garnished with parmesan. Mmmmmmmm...

Not So Smart

I've been feeling really stressed by my job right now. Time-sensitive issues are piling up and there has been a rash of project politics (as opposed to family politics or office politics) that test my patience sorely. Fortunately, I have some more help now, but management has its own challenges.
In addition, I haven't been able to take a vacation, mainly because I don't have any extra cash to go anywhere far away (which is where I want to go!). FS is going to Spain in October for two weeks and I am very jealous.

In the midst of this, I suddenly decide NOW is the time to take the Architectural Registration Exams (hereafter referred to as ARE). Most people take a year to do them. I plan to get them done in 5 months. I'm a good test taker and don't plan on having much of a life outside of studying for the exams. And I want to get this over with!
Short description of the ARE: in order to get my architectural license, and move up to the next phase of my career (ie. make more money -- I already do the work of an architect), I need to pass 9 exams. All are on the computer. Three of them are graphic exams, done with a rudimentary drafting program, and are graded by a person. The other six are multiple choice, and are computer graded (and yet, we don't get scores for a week or two).
I'm taking the graphics tests first, partially because I have to wait the longest for results for them. Also, one of my strengths is problem solving, which is the focus of the graphic exams. All I have to do is understand what they are wanting to see and make sure I'm comfortable with the program.
The multiple choice tests come next. They require more memorization, but I still have to think like they do.
The not-so-funny thing is that the tests have little to do with real life and more to do with having a rite of passage. People proving that they are "worthy" of having the title of architect. But I've known people I respect who have trouble passing (because they have trouble with tests, I imagine) and people whom I don't respect who HAVE passed (maybe they paid someone to take the tests for them).
I don't expect to have trouble. I'll do a reasonable amount of studying and pass. I'm a good test taker. I'm reasonably smart.

Except I'm adding stress at a time of extremely high stress. Maybe not so smart.


Motorcycling Weekend

Well, what a weekend.
On Saturday, I went to a party in Ft. Collins that some good friends of mine had. The main focus was a Mixed Martial Arts fight, but I really went to hang out with friends and family. A few family members weren't able to be there, which was disappointing, but I'm sure I'll get to see them soon. We had some yummy burgers and chili and a delicious fruit torte and pudding for dessert. Anyway, the point of this story is that I drove up to Ft. Collins on my bike. It's now the longest trip I've ever taken. I went up on I-25, no problems with the traffic and the bike's top speed of 75 (although I've gotten up to 80 in the right conditions) is perfectly sufficient (I wouldn't mind a little extra horsepower though). It seemed like a long trip and my butt was a little numb when I got up there. It was pretty windy too, which I had never really dealt with before. I left the party before I got too tired, though it was after dark (also a fairly new experience). I had to stop on the way back to switch the gas take to the "reserve" position (apparently I use gas much faster when going faster) and then I stopped for gas, just in case. It was nice that I had no trouble evaluating the problem, manuvering through traffic, and starting and stopping on the shoulder safely. There was a bit of rain that gave me pause for a few minutes, but it dried up and went away before I had any issues. The biggest realization I came to was that I really needed to get a warmer (and sturdier) jacket for riding. It was burrrrrr cold that night!
Sunday, I went up to Broomfield, again on the motorcycle, to have lunch with a good friend. While I was doing that, FS (former squeeze) called to see if I wanted to go on a ride. After I was done with lunch, I headed down to Lakewood to meet up with him. It was starting to look a bit threatening, and FS made the same observation about me needing another jacket, so we went to Colorado Mills and found a leather store. We found a jacket that combines the look I wanted, plus heavier leather, some extra patches of leather at the shoulders and elbows, a removable quilted inner liner, AND zippered vents for driving in warmer weather. Because the jacket is a short style, FS suggested I get chaps as well and because I've always wanted chaps, I was easy to convince. I love them -- they make me feel like a cowboy. :) (See above for photographic evidence.)
After the shopping excursion, FS and I went to our respective homes to switch to rain proof cars before we met up again to go to 3:10 to Yuma. I had been really looking forward to it because I really enjoy the work of both Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. It was a good movie, with great "Western" cinematography and the acting was superb. There were a few peculiar plot points, but for the most part, it was a showcase of two very good actors doing what they do best.

ETA: I just saw this article about Harley wooing women riders. I won't be buying a Harley, but it's an interesting article.


Not Laboring

I spent Labor Day Weekend having a grand ol' time. I spent Saturday doing errands and sitting outside and reading. On Sunday, I went to my sister's for a BBQ at her and her husband's new house. Family and friends were gathered together to enjoy good food (all delicious: Texas caviar, dry rub ribs, pulled pork, potato salad, cole slaw, apple cobbler, and chocolate mousse) and good conversation. The Wii was pulled out for entertainment and we all had a good laugh when Krissy was playing with the controller upside-down. The funniest part was how hard Krissy was laughing. I also went out and played on the playground with Max, Jenn, and Strider. It had all kinds of fun climbing equipment. It would be fun to have an adult version of that.
On Monday, I went hiking with my friends, Stacey and JR. We went up to Blue Lake, in the Indian Peaks area (same area I went to the weekend before). JR gets credit for all the following photos:
Stacey and I on the way up.
The waterfall from the glacier feeding Blue Lake.
Stacey and I on our way back.
We stopped in Boulder for a bite to eat and then on the way back, a friend called to find out if I still wanted to go for a bike (motorcycle) ride. I stopped at the house, changed clothes and went right back out again. We drove from Lakewood up Bear Creek Road to Evergreen, stopped at the Little Bear Tavern and then rode back down again. The ride was my first on curvy mountain roads and it was a lot of fun. A wee bit scary, because visibility around curves was difficult, but traffic was slower than I thought it would be, so I had plenty of time to react.
All in all it was a very fun weekend!

Up to My Old Tricks

Yesterday, I read a foodie article about rediscoving (and liking!) okra. The picture was so tantalizing that I stopped by the grocery store and bought some okra. Last night, for dinner, I pretty much made the sauteed okra as described in the article. Yummy. This morning, I had the other half of the okra left. I sauteed it, like I did the night before, but I over salted it just a hair. So, I mixed it with some chopped tomatoes and garnished it with parmesan. The flavors went well together, but I think the moisture in the tomatoes accentuated the residual moisture (aka slime) in the okra. I didn't mind so much, but guests might not enjoy it. I know my brother doesn't like that. So. Partial success on this one.


Discipline Issues

This dastardly site is a new community area for some internet friends I already kind of hang out with. Hopefully, I can find the strength to resist visiting it during the work day.

Along those lines, I need to get my act together for the ARE (registration exams) and do a post about the Labor Day Weekend activities!